Sunday, March 5, 2017

"Ruffled Skirts" Album Review

John Schneider's brand new album "Ruffled Skirts" was born from heartache and triumph over Louisiana's historic flooding in 2016.  Having released over a dozen albums, this is the singer's first in over 20 years (not including 2 Christmas works).  Schneider has been out of the musical spotlight, focusing on acting, directing, producing, and opening a production studio in the Bayou state.

"Ruffled Skirts" opens with a sampling of the gospel standard "In The Shelter" before transitioning into the hard driving "The Cajun Navy."  This sets the tone for the remainder of the album, songs full of devastation and hope, and the characters who prevailed.  The Cajun Navy are volunteers who lent a helping hand during the flooding and this honors their time and commitment.

A personal favorite is "Too Much Rain," a heavy ballad marked with Schneider's warm honeyed tenor.  The most powerful line comes on the bridge "...She told me she was going to get in her car and go where it never rains..."  The heartache felt in those lines haunts the rest of the song, leaving the listener wondering if she made it to her destination.

Another standout is "The FEMA Song," a kiss off song dedicated to the government agency was recorded live.  The lyrics add to the sentiment of the raucous crowd, and Schneider's vocals really shine here.

Probably the saddest song listeners will hear this year is "How Do You Stop The Water."  The ballad revolves around a man who's lost everything in the flood, "...Over 60 years of memories that just washed away..." Thoughts of his wife and children who lived in the same house gone, along with all of the cherished belongings.

"Goin' With The Flow," "Five Feet High And Risin'" (a Johnny Cash cover), and "An Act Of God" round out the album's main subject matter, the latter being another outstanding ballad.

"Every Friday Night" is the only tune that doesn't deal with the tragic events of last year's flooding.  It's a fun romp about a boy who grew up on "The Dukes Of Hazzard."  It's a nice diversion from the heaviness of the rest of collection.

"Ruffled Skirts" was recorded in Schneider's living room, part of what was damaged in the floods, and adds to the rawness of the lyrics.  The songs were co-written with Clifton Brown, Scott Innes, and Phil Redrow.  The Cajun Navy band consists of a stellar cast including Carol Bersas, Nelson Blanchard, Randy Carpenter, Bud Carson, Mark DuVelle Doyle, Margaret Fowler, Tammy Watts Hardy, Doug Kershaw, Lauren, Valerie, and Olivia Powell, and Jo-El Sonnier.

"How Do You Stop The Water" and "Every Friday Night" have been released to radio.  The album is available now, go get a copy and treat your ears to real country music.

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